Betty smBetty Plevney has an MBA from Ohio State University and an MA in Writing From the University of San Francisco. She travels the globe meeting with clients, who range from Fortune 500 corporations to governmental agencies and family foundations. What exactly does she do? Betty is a professionally trained and highly sought-after graphic facilitator. Using skills in deep listening, information synthesis, and intuitive visual processing, she creates visual maps that illuminate the collective wisdom of the group and foster understanding of complex data. In short, Betty is a professional doodler. And she’ll be doodling for all to see at the James River Writers Conference.

We hope Betty’s visual maps will inspire all our conference goers to dabble in doodling themselves. If you haven’t noticed, there’s a doodling revolution taking place. Doodling is a way to process and retain auditory input, solve problems, hone our visualization skills, and increase focus. (To hear all about the benefits of doodling, listen to this TED Talk by Sunni Brown.)

Betty’s interest in graphic facilitation was inspired by the long tradition of illustrated journaling, which reflects the integration of the writer, the naturalist, and the artist. For Betty, graphic recording makes this process public, live, in the moment. She also integrates improvisational storytelling techniques. “When I stand in front of a group of people ready BPlevneyto begin, I have a giant white page with nothing on it,” says Betty. “That page must be filled with the happening of the moment. Together, with the audience, the speakers, the place, I am improvising. I am telling their story.”

As you attend the conference this year, we hope you will be inspired to doodle to your heart’s content. It will help you process and remember all the amazing things you’ll hear from our speakers. Share photos of your doodles on social media and hashtag it with #JRW14. Claim the power of the doodle!

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